Why Do We Cancel Arrangements?



Why are we notorious for cancelling arrangements? You may have been looking forward all week to going out for dinner with us, or we sent a text message suggesting meeting up that evening for a drink only for a message to arrive an hour before hand explaining we cannot make it. I am not referring to those instances where we do not just turn up, but why is it that we make plans with you, be it a month in advance or just hours and we do so with enthusiasm and guarantees of being there, only to then cancel those arrangements?

There is a central factor behind this behaviour. It is control. As you know, control is of huge importance to us. We once lacked control as the world turned against us and we must never allow that to happen. By exerting control, we gain the validation we need, the fuel we require and we ensure that we are not ambushed, belittled and made to feel weak. By controlling our environment we reinforce that we are a supreme master of our destiny and of the destiny of others and through this control we are able to be that which we want the world to see. Control equals safety.

Accordingly, we need to control people and especially those which are our appliances in the provision of fuel and other benefits. We derive several benefits from exerting this control over you by dictating how and when we shall meet with you and especially by then withdrawing the meeting.

1.      We can determine how you will react to us taking this step – is it annoyance, irritation, upset, begging to meet up, re-arranging immediately or indifference;

2.      We can gauge from your reaction just how much control we are exerting over you;

3.      We can evaluate the extent of the fuel provision.

As you will have become aware, we operate through the continued and repeated application of contrast. Build you up and knock you down. Idealise and then devalue. Lift up and throw down. Our behaviour when it comes to making arrangements to do something together is no different. We give you the elation of something to look forward to and then we snatch it away and observe the outcome.

Our sense of entitlement means that we can treat you in this manner. You are not important. Our needs and our time matter far more. Thus, in accordance with our inflated sense of self we will deem it our right to demand to see you with just two hours’ notice and then cancel with barely five minutes’ warning. We of course do not care about how this makes you feel (but we are invested as to how this manifests because it is fuel) nor do we have any concern for whether you have been inconvenienced, put to expense, made to arrange child care, alter other arrangements, travel and so on. It is expected that you will do these things for us.

By behaving in this manner we reinforce our sense of superiority. Our idea of being god-like able to do as we please on a whim and everything else has to accommodate us and fall into place behind us.

This propensity to cancel is also indicative of how we perceive time in a different manner to other people. We are notoriously unpunctual, save when it is of crucial importance to us. This is because we do not value anybody’s time but our own, but it is also because we are so focused on what we are doing at that precise moment that pending plans, no matter how imminent will be held at bay, put to one side and ignored as we revel in what is happening in that instant. How many times have you had to stand waiting for your narcissist to turn up (assuming he or she has not cancelled) ? How many times have you been left waiting at a bar, at a bus stop, at your house as you wonder where on earth we have go to? This is because we have been too focused on the activity we have been engaged in, namely drawing fuel and therefore your appointment with us can wait and is forgotten about until something causes a reminder.

Thus, we may well have made what has seemed like cast iron plans with you for dinner this evening and a reservation has been made along with arrangements about where to meet. You have checked twice that we are still ‘on for this evening’ and then despite this we ring and cancel. We have been distracted by something else and because we are gaining fuel from that something else we want to continue doing that but we will not pass up this opportunity to let you down, exert control over you and gain further fuel.

What we are doing matters, what you have planned does not concern us. Often arrangements will be cancelled because of the new moment we find ourselves in our because we have a better offer. We have no need to exhibit manners or show loyalty, but whatever serves us best will be done and if this means telling you we cannot make it, then so be it.

How does this cancelling of arrangements manifest in the various dynamics?


1.      If you are a non-intimate secondary source who is a colleague or family member then we cancel not because we intend to devalue you, but rather because of the existing connection between us (work/familial) it is a given that we can cancel and you should accept it. If you complain, we gain fuel, if you do not but are content to re-arrange this underlines that you are subservient to us and it is as is expected. Since you are a secondary source which is in a near permanent golden period, remember we can pick you up and put you down as we please and cancelling an arrangement is just a manifestation of this dynamic rather than being a specific form of devaluation.

2.      If you are a non-intimate secondary source who is a friend, again there is an expectation that you will just accept this because you are loyal and functioning. We expect some fuel – positive or negative – and for you to want to re-arrange. This again demonstrates to us that you remain well under our control and is more pick you up and put you down behaviour rather than devaluation.

3.      If it is the initial seduction of somebody who we intend to make our primary source, whether you are a Non Intimate Secondary Source or you have advanced to an Intimate Partner Secondary Source then cancelling an arrangement is not done to devalue. It is done as a test. We are hoping for disappointment and a willingness to rearrange. If you fly off the handle with us, whilst we gain fuel, we will consider you as less desirable to be a primary source. If you are indifferent, this is the worst outcome and we are unlikely to continue our seduction of you, since you have become uninterested far too soon. This test will not be used frequently with you however as we have no desire to ruin the seduction and put you off.

4.      If you have been drawn to us and we have embedded you in a golden period as either the IPSS (who may become the IPPS) or as the IPPS then it is highly unlikely that we will cancel arrangements. You are now the apple of our eye and providing delicious positive fuel so we have no desire to interrupt that, let you down or spoil the illusion of us as being attentive, delightful and wonderful. If it does happen, then it may just be a genuine inability to be able to keep to the arrangement.

5.      If you are the IPPS and we keep cancelling arrangements then you are squarely within the devaluation period. This is being done purely to draw negative fuel from you, to upset you, hurt you and anger you. It is also the case that we are more than likely cancelling so we can spend time with the prospective primary source we are cultivating and we are using this as a chance to draw negative fuel from you and continue our manipulative mind games, especially when we tell you we cannot make it because we have to work late and you then later see a post on social media showing us in a bar with somebody else.

6.      If you are a NISS or IPSS devaluation is rare but if you find that we are cancelling repeatedly on you, this is not a test but you should be aware that you are being devalued and that the relationship is swiftly heading towards discard.

4 thoughts on “Why Do We Cancel Arrangements?

  1. Bekah B says:

    I, too, have to laugh at this.. My narc and I got in a heated disagreement where I confined him in my car and made him hash it out with me until we came to a resolution one night.. It was difficult, but we ended up speaking on civil terms and ended the night well, laughing and then just eventually going to bed.. Towards the end of the disagreement, before the laughter, he did mention that he was going to “handle this” (the fact that I made him talk, which was his pet peeve).. I heard him make the comment that night and was only reminded of it the next night, when he texted me, telling me to put the kids to bed asap because he was coming over to just relax, talk, and make love.. I did as I was instructed and contacted him about an hour later, asking if he was ready to come over now.. He never responded.. I called him.. It rang normally the first few calls, but then eventually went straight to voicemail.. He finally responded to my text message the next morning around 5 AM, saying he passed out drunk and his phone had died.. I told him okay and said that it was alright, but then sent him a lengthy text telling him I really did feel he did that on purpose.. Of course he denied it and then started the blame game and projection.. Gotta love that narc.. 😉

  2. Jaysle says:

    It sounds like numbers three and six would be in the empath’s favor (granted number six doesn’t come with any major negative repercussions). As for three, the narcissist leaves the empath alone if they “fly off the handle”. Considering that you said the Intimate Partner Primary Source gets the worst of the deal, that sounds like a good choice for the empath to make. And six, the empath is simply discarded, which would allow the empath time to make a permanent escape plan if they choose to.

    My confusion lies with the notion of the narcissist deciding not to make an empath an IPPS if they were to go berserk on the narcissist. While it’s good to know that the narcissist will decide against this particular empath in a case such as three described above, it’s just a confusing concept to grasp since it has been said that no contact is actually one of the only methods to make a narcissist decide against making an empathic target an IPPS (or form any kind of relationship for that matter).

    It’s good to know, though, that there is another way of putting off the narcissist so that he re-shifts his goal of making an empath his IPPS, aside from going no contact and the Gray Rock method. Are there any others?

  3. ava101 says:

    The ex-narc and I planned once for 12 hours in a row via Skype a trip to the UK to attend a certain event near Oxford and then to travel a little to visit some historical places.

    It was HIS idea, he talked me into it. About two months before that he had found his way back into my life on my birthday, giving me the most valued books as a birthday gift, talking on the phone for half the night the next days – then reading to me a text about that event as a bed time story, because he knew that I was very interested in that.

    We were not in an intimate relationship at that time anymore. It took 12 hours because of endless discussions about his travel arrangements (him flying in from a different airport), schedule, meeting place, then acceptable places to stay; endless discussions in circular fashion about how he could not stay in the same hotel room with me because of the “vibes”/sexual attraction between us, but how he also could not stay in a separate room with me nearby, nor in a different hotel. How he could neither stand the sexual attraction, nor give in, as he was waiting for the right partner for that and be in a serious relationship/married; nor just be friends without those feelings because of the attraction but also not be in a formal relationship with me, therefore could not give in and have sex, and therefore not stay near me … (not that he would ever be in danger of being swept away, even holding hands is too much for him), and so on, and on, and on. I think in the end he did agree on staying in the same room with two separate beds …

    We planned every detail of the trip, the roads we would take by car, different vegan places to stay (he was vegan at that time), where we would eat, so we wouldn’t have to find vegan places when driving around, how long we would visit each place, calculating the duration of everything, etc., etc.

    He insisted(!) on me booking everything, the car, the hotels, the flight. Everything was fixed after 12 hrs of discussion.

    Only for him to cancel the next day, “because he had to attend the meeting by himself, as I would distract him”. Not that he could in any way tell me not to go, and we were also both registered as attendees. But I had also booked the rooms and the car for two people. No word about the planned trip after the event.

    Thankfully I could cancel without a fee everything but the flight. It took the intervention of a friend to make him pay half of the cancellation fee.

    Soo… that was the last time I ever planned anything with him or that I ever had any patience or tolerance for him.

    Only consolation was that the event had been cancelled then.

    So, HG, with all that talking me into it, making it sound a wonderful idea two months before that (two months after he had told me that he wouldn’t need me anymore, as he had “another soul now”), with all that detailed planning, with all that enjoyable circular talk … – you think it might just have been on the spur of the moment to cancel?!

    And how can you expect anyone to rely on you (your kind) again when behaving that way without any regard for the inconvenience you are causing? How is that a benefit to a narc?

  4. Caroline says:

    Reading this, I have to laugh because I am beginning to grasp the concept that if you’re involved with a narcissist – no matter how – you are going to always end up thinking “WTH?”

    My end with the narc was kind of like a canceled arrangement (a supposedly important phone conversation he wanted with me that he ghosted), but I’ll never know what was really going on. I gave up trying to piece it together.

    However, after 51 days NC, I am left with a pretty strong gut instinct that 2 things are quite likely:
    1) He hates me a bunch for not being easier to wrangle (for whatever it was he wanted) — and I will never hear from him again because I was increasingly giving him a suspicious “WTH” vibe OR
    2) He hates me a bunch and is planning a much later comeback, in some manner that I’m sure will not delight me.

    Either way, I feel his “I hate you a bunch” vibe…and I can only hope he feels my “Whatever – whoever you are” vibe.

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